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Sentencing: Nadroga Navosa 14 Jailed For Sedition

The 14 people charged with sedition over the formation of the Nadroga Navosa Christian State, while being handed jail terms by the High Court in Lautoka yesterday, were told they
30 Nov 2017 09:34
Sentencing: Nadroga Navosa 14 Jailed For Sedition

The 14 people charged with sedition over the formation of the Nadroga Navosa Christian State, while being handed jail terms by the High Court in Lautoka yesterday, were told they ought to have known better about the consequences of the actions.

The 14 are Ratu Inoke Tasere, Jimi Koroibete, Seru Kunalagi, Adi Cuvu Gavidi Atama, Ulaiasi Rabua Tuivono, Peniasi Naqau, Semi Tanikili, Ratu Osea Bolawaqatabu, Ratu Tevita Khaikhainabokolawale Makutu, Mosese Navaci, Eroni Rikoriko, Alifereti Nakuinivou, Alifereti Gonewai and Jorama Ratulevu.

They were charged with two counts each of sedition under section 67 (1) (a) of the Crimes Act 2009. They were convicted of signing a document for the formation of the Christian state on November 4, 2014, in Sigatoka.

All 14 were jailed for two years three months and 11 days.

For the fifth accused, Ulaiasi Tuivono, Judge Justice Sunil Sharma ordered that out of this sentence, he was to serve 16 months consecutively to his existing term of imprisonment for the Ra sedition case in which he was also involved.

The balance of the sentence was to be served concurrently.

“The court notes that the accused persons are people of some standing in their respective communities, some are educated and have work experiences as well whilst some are senior citizens in this country,” Justice Sharma said.

“The above attributes in my view does not give any comfort to the accused persons from what they had done.”

Justice Sharma said he accepted that all accused persons except for Tuivono, were first offenders and persons of good character varying from 38 years to 74 years.

“On the other hand, the accused persons have committed serious offences and their culpability is obvious.”

“Although the accused persons are stating that they had been duped by one Mereoni Kirwin and the late Ratu Osea Gavidi, they must take full responsibility for their actions.”

Justice Sharma said after weighing the factors in favour of the accused persons and the serious nature and circumstances of the offences committed, there was a need for a special and general deterrence in respect of the offences committed.

“I am satisfied that a term of imprisonment is an appropriate punishment to be served, hence I refuse to suspend any of the sentences of imprisonment.”

He said the term of imprisonment was warranted considering the seriousness of the offences.

As for imposing a non parole period, Justice Sharma said the court had discretion but considering the past history of all the accused persons, it was appropriate in their rehabilitation, not to impose a non parole period which was just in the circumstances of the case.

With some of the accused having stated they had medical problems, Justice Sharma ordered the Commissioner of Corrections Services and his officers to provide all the necessary assistance when needed.

Lawyer Aman Ravindra-Singh defended all accused except for Adi Cuvu Atama, who was represented by Sala Kunatuba and Naqau who was defended by Filimoni Vosarogo.

They have been given 30 days to appeal.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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